Orlando indie rock quintet The Plush Monsters played their most recent show in May of 2015. It served as a release show for the band’s latest album, Is It Cool (for a brother to be sad)?, distributed to attendees on flash drives. Since then, the band members went their separate ways, playing in other bands or starting new chapters of their lives, and Is It Cool has remained unheard by anyone not at that show. Until now. For some reason, the band chose the The Vinyl Warhol to serve as their baby’s nesting ground ahead of the greater release on February 1. I’m not entirely sure what this release means for the future of the band, but fingers crossed for more. Stream Is It Cool below and read our review. Enjoy.
An album of many colors, Is It Cool (for a brother to be sad)? covers a wide soundscape without losing focus. The opener is “Valley Bird.” It’s a journey that is constantly shifting, the tempo speeding and slowing, instruments coming in and out. At 1:57, a triumphant snare builds and builds only to settle in to a chunky, bass-led pace. This, of course, hollows back out into the chorus. This theme of metamorphosis spans Is It Cool?. We are always being shown something new.
At different points, glockenspiel, djembe, and harmonica stop by to take us further into The Plush Monsters’ joyous rumpus. The glock shines in the bright dings that drape “It’s for Real.” The song’s psychedelic lack of urgency acts an extended bridge between the former and proceeding songs. Those two songs, “Ruby” and “Mad Dog Mary Flies The Coop,” are two more sporadic bursts of energy. We visit space for a second a la The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” during the intro of “Mad Dog,” proof that these Monsters can make anything sound good.
“Empty Nest,” the longest slow song on Is It Cool, is the closest the boys get to being sad. Bryan Sherbook’s guitar cries his own version of the blues into the canyons created by Thommy Laverack’s croons. Even here at The Plush Monsters’ lowest, you can’t help but smile when the cartoony harmonica sings along side Laverack.
To further understand The Plush Monsters’ world, look no further than Is It Cool’s cover. Each band member is depicted as a different animal (an orangoutang, a fox, a horseshoe crab), a monster if you will. But these aren’t scary monsters. Dave Hanson (the bear) doesn’t maul his drums like their Leonardo Dicaprio in The Revenant. Instead, they’re more akin to the friendly stop-motion characters of Fantastic Mr. Fox. They’re plush monsters…